Understand stuff

Daily Thought
An evangelical bible scholar managed to get me into a bible studies session the other week. They were all trying to be friendly, but I couldn’t feel comfortable with them. And they couldn’t feel comfortable with me. The problem was, no matter how many times I tried to explain how – in a positive, happy way – our beliefs were compatible, they didn’t want to hear it. Well, the guy taking the session didn’t. He only wanted me to listen to his interpretation of biblical passages. When I gave the same interpretation, but didn’t end in “And so worship Jesus and pray to him and love him”, he just couldn’t engage.I reckon this is partly because we’re already put at opposite ends. He assumes I’m going to talk shit because I’m a self-confessed pagan/agnostic. And I assume he’s trying to recruit me into God’s army of children. We assume we can’t talk to eachother, so we just talk at eachother.Still, it’s interesting to see how compatible the texts of the major religions are with a lot of philosophy. It’s like interpreting poetry – you really can use it to mean all sorts of things. Well, it’s harder with some poems than others, though I think upward of a thousand years of religious history show that most holy books aren’t those poems.That’s not to say they’re worthless. They provide the same good advice, no matter how you look at it. The problem is what you think that advice should be taken to mean.

So, I’ve read nothing on Jihad except a few Wikipedia paragraphs and I can immediately see that “struggle in the way of God” is a good but misleading phrase.

(To be fair, anything as short as a phrase probably has to be misleading.)

I like it because I can interpret God as Truth or Perfection (and surely that’s what God is anyway, right?) and I think there is merit in that quest for Truth which we’ve all embarked upon. I don’t like it because it can be interpreted as violent struggle with other people. As well as that fine and dandy struggle with the self or with ideas.

And that’s not even proper exegesis stuff because the phrase is taken out of context. But seriously, how many people calling themselves mujahideen have taken it in context?

(I assume not many, I guess I could be wrong. I haven’t looked at the context either.)

Therefore (bringing this stream of thought to a close) I am a reconciliatory weirdo who has a massive problem with language. Just talking about Islam or Christianity or Science and claiming I can interpret any of it seems to be get at least someone really riled up. No one gets what I’m thinking. Their own thoughts and the words get in the way. Understandably. Naturally. So I’m trying to be even more co-operative and compatible, and actually understand what they’re thinking, then explain what I’m thinking in their terms. Then we can have a proper conversation.

But it’s fucking hard to do.

–  My Mission Statement 04/06/2014 “Understand stuff”

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